Then the trouble started. He was kicked out of an upscale Dallas mall in early 2011 for wearing his pants too low, and a week later, lawsuits surfaced alleging that he had nearly $1 million in unpaid bills from jewelry and game tickets, mostly racked up before he signed a five-year contract with $8.3 million in guaranteed money.
Another spotty season on the field in 2011 was followed by the most serious incident, this one involving his arrest last summer. According to an affidavit filed by police in the Dallas suburb of DeSoto, Bryant struck his mother, Angela Bryant, in the face with a ball cap and grabbed her T-shirt.
Bryant’s mom didn’t want to press charges, and prosecutors announced a deal last week that could lead to the dismissal of a misdemeanor family violence charge if Bryant isn’t arrested and regularly attends anger management counseling for the next year.
Witten isn’t sure a resolution of the case is the reason Bryant seems ready to be the Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver. He just knows it’s looking that way, particularly after Bryant helped beat the Browns with so many catches on shorter routes, not usually his strength.
“That’s the other part of being a receiver,” Witten said. “He understands, `Hey, I’m a go-to guy.’ And you know that he wants to be really, really good.”
Bryant is still having some of those ill-advised moments, like a play against Cleveland where he easily could have run for a first down and inexplicably stepped out of bounds a yard short when defenders closed in. Afterward, he acknowledged he wasn’t sure where the first-down marker was, although he was also trying to follow the advice of coaches not to always take on tacklers.
Three weeks ago, he followed his second 100-yard game of the season with one catch in a big Sunday night game at Atlanta.
“I’m hoping he disappears,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said with a laugh. “No, he’s a tremendous athlete. I think everybody knows that.”
The question is whether he can be that go-to guy _ all the time.
Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lschuylerd